An afternoon at the movies – The Accountant

in November of 2012, I wrote a post somewhat off topic for the blog asking the question “What about heroes without empathy?” I was am confused when it comes to admirable people with heroic dimensions who just happen to be unable to relate to other fellow human beings.

While the post had nothing to do with losing weight or living a long, healthy life, it proved very popular and stimulated interesting comments from readers.

That brings me to yesterday. I went with my girlfriend to see Ben Affleck’s new film, The Accountant. Lo and behold, here we are three years later with a powerful hero very much unable to relate to his fellow human beings.

The Accountant suffers from autism. Autism Speaks defines this as  a general term for “a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.”

The film surprised me on a number of levels. After seeing the trailers, I expected a high level thriller with Ben Affleck kicking a lot of bad guy butt.

I was pleasantly surprised to experience not only a high level thriller with Ben Affleck kicking butt, but also a detailed exposition of autism and how it affects personal development.

With only one reservation, I would like to recommend the movie as an engaging couple of hours in a dark theater with a small bag of popcorn on your lap.

I liked the writing and direction. There were some ingenious plot twists. The cast proved first rate, besides Affleck, there was Academy Award winner, J.K. Simmons. Second youngest Tony nominee, Anna Kendrick as well as the seemingly ubiquitous Jeffrey Tambor and Jon Bernthal.

My reservation is my usual complaint about Hollywood movies these days. A lot of the bad guys are from the business world. In this case, stock market operators. In one instance in The Accountant, short sellers.

As a person who spent 30 years practicing financial journalism, I am a total supporter of the free market system. It seems tragic that the creators on the Left Coast seem devoted to tearing down our respect for those individuals who make a living by taking risks in the markets. I refuse to believe that speculators are responsible for the economic woes we have suffered. The problems are more likely a result of government mismanaging at the highest levels.

The housing crisis of some years back came about directly from then President Clinton’s dictum that ‘everyone should own a home.’

Reason magazine said, “The meltdown was the consequence of a combination of the easy money and low interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve and the easy housing engineered by a variety of government agencies and policies. Those agencies include the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and two nominally private “government-sponsored enterprises” (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The agencies — along with laws such as the Community Reinvestment Act (passed in the 1970s, then fortified in the Clinton years), which required banks to make loans to people with poor and nonexistent credit histories — made widespread home ownership a national goal. This all led to a home-buying frenzy and an explosion of subprime and other non-prime mortgages, which banks and GSEs bundled into dubious securities and peddled to investors worldwide. Hovering in the background was the knowledge that the federal government would bail out troubled “too-big-to-fail” financial corporations, including Fannie and Freddie.”

Writing recently in the Wall Street Journal about America’s Decadent Leadership Class, Peggy Noonan reported, “But nothing is more dangerous than this: that Mr. Putin and perhaps other world leaders have come to have diminished respect for the morality, patriotism and large-mindedness of our leaders. Nikita Khrushchev had a rough respect for JFK and his men and that respect, in the Cuban Missile Crisis, helped avert nuclear war. Mikhail Gorbachev was in the end half-awed by Ronald Reagan ’s goodness and idealism; the world knew George H.W. Bush and respected his integrity, and so he was able to build coalitions that were real coalitions, not just names. Now, whoever wins, we are in a different place, a lesser and more dangerous one.”

In a free market system, the potential consumer always has the final say, if he doesn’t like the product, he can vote with his pocketbook and not buy it. With government edicts, however, if you disagree you end up in jail.

I think you will find The Accountant will on balance prove to be a profitable investment of your time and entertainment dollars.

If you have any interest in another of my movie write-ups, check out The Dark Knight rises, but lets us down from 2012.


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